Everything is connected if you know where to look.
I had never experienced an inability to understand a subject in school. I was a Straight-A student. I read in many different genres and topics and retained significant knowledge. Making connections between ideas and knowledge that I picked up from reading, listening, and schooling, came easy to me.
The college that I attended fired the Chair of the Modern Languages Department and discontinued the degree offered in Spanish. That was my major. I planned to be a teacher of Spanish at the high school level.
Casting about for an anchor to hold onto, I chose Nursing. I could become a CRNA. I switched my major.
Second semester in the new program I was required to take a class in chemistry.
I applied the patterns and skills that had always enabled me to get good grades.
Nothing stuck. Nothing connected to what I already knew. I was failing.
The Chair of the Nursing Department called me to her office.
“Your chemistry professor says you are failing his class.”
Embarrassed, I nodded.
“Our program has a 100% pass rate on the N-CLEX test. You are jeopardizing that record. Please change your major to something other than Nursing.”
I was mortified. I walked out of the building feeling like I had a sign on my back and forhead that said, “Kick me! I’m a loser!”
Several years later I was teaching English and History at a high school in California. Two weeks before the beginning of the Fall term, the principal called me in and said, “Our Chemistry teacher just resigned. You are the only faculty member with that period open. You will be teaching General Chemistry this semester. ” It was not a question. And he handed me the textbook.
I worked those two weeks to get two weeks ahead of the students. I did. And I stayed ahead of them. I began to understand the subject.
Thus began my quest in Life-Long Learning – stretching, expanding my academic understanding.
Now It’s Your Turn
The Academic self focuses on knowledge, understanding, cognitive acuity, and career-based growth.
First, ask yourself some questions. Be honest. This is personal, no one else needs to see or know what goes into the answers to the question.
1. “What don’t I know?”
2. “What don’t I know about?”
3. “What subject has been difficult for me in the past?
4. “What could I learn that would get me a promotion? Or qualify me for a different job?
Write some answers to these questions on paper. Or type it into a document on your computer or mobile device. Really! Do it now, before reading on.
Learning is mostly about connecting new material to what you already know.
In my experience, few teachers help their students understand that ‘fact’ and teach them how to apply it as they are given new material to learn.
Don’t stop reading yet.
A caterpillar who doesn’t change, never experiences being a butterfly.
Perhaps you wonder why you should work on your Academic Self.
Why should you learn something new?
Reasons to Learn at Every Stage of Life
1. Self satisfaction
You always wanted to learn … but Life interferred.
You want/need to remove an area of ignorance.
You want update your basic knowledge skills.
2. Career update or advancement
Nothing stands still in the worlds of business or industry.
3. To have something in common with your significant other, or friend, or business associate…
4. To off-set potential age-related cognitive decline
5. To fill time (after retirement) – offset boredom
6. To prepare for service in your church or community or family
7. To re-invent yourself – a New You
Now, look back at your answers to the 4 Get Started questions.
Maybe the 7 Reasons list will help you find more answers to those questions.
Delay is Deadly.
Become the butterfly that is inside you right now.
Volunteer at a local school.
Volunteer at the local library. Be available after school hours to tutor.
Grandchildren are a great excuse to learn more.
Connect with an elderly or shut-in person in your church and become a friend.
Many colleges offer to seniors free enrollment in classes.
Many courses are available free on-line and over smart TV.
This is #5 in the series Seven Spheres of Life.
Other articles already available
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